Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Food for thought

With Thanksgiving upon us, I figured I would give a quick list of facts about turkeys. It is not my goal to get any of you to stop eating turkey. Not that I don't think that would be a wonderful thing, but I try as much as possible to be a realist. And with that in mind, it is my goal to get you to think about turkeys as more than just food, but as living creatures with minds of their own. And as you're about to read, they do indeed have minds of their own, and are not as dumb as we've characterized them to be.

  • Wild turkeys can run up to 25 miles per hour and can fly short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. In comparison with the physical prowess of their wild relatives, turkeys genetically selected to be raised for meat weigh twice as much, making them unable to fly or even copulate naturally since their breasts are so enlarged.

  • Benjamin Franklin regarded the turkey as a noble bird and preferred it to the eagle as the proposed symbol for the new United States, describing it as a "Bird of Courage.

  • Animal welfare groups such as Farm Sanctuary claim that turkeys are bright and social animals that can make suitable companion animals. There is a long tradition of keeping turkeys as pets, and Abraham Lincoln's son Tad kept a turkey as a White House pet.

  • The average lifespan for a domesticated turkey is ten years (and much less than that for those raised for food).

  • Turkeys are popularly believed to be unintelligent birds with claims made that during a rain storm turkeys will look up into the sky until they drown. Despite this image, the turkey is no more or less intelligent than a comparable animal, and while the birds will look at the sky for up to a minute during a rain storm, this is due to a genetic nervous disorder known as tetanic torticollar spasms. Other criticisms include the bird being 'too dumb' to realize it can't fly, and perceptions about the bird being awkward, both traits being due to the breeding of modern turkeys to be much heavier than their wild relatives to provide more meat.

  • Within just a few days of hatching, poults (young turkeys) instinctively tag along behind their mother for protection and food. During their first few weeks of life, poults will panic when separated from their mother. The poult emits a loud "peep peep" to which the mother responds by yelping and running towards her child. Mother turkeys defend their young against predators, including raccoons, foxes, snakes, owls, and hawks.

  • Poults continue to live with their mother for four or five months, and during this time, the mother-child bonding through vocal and visual signals is important to the poult’s normal social development. The signals communicated early on facilitate learning of important social activities, as turkeys are social animals who prefer to live and feed together in flocks.

Whether you're eating turkey or not, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Canoe say sorry?

Last year, my girlfriend and I went camping with a bunch of friends. We all rented canoes, and Tiff and I accidentally capsized another couple that we're friends with. The lesson we learned: canoes do not behave the same way bumper cars do. or even bumper boats. I helped them collect their stuff that was floating in the water, though we never recovered a pair of sunglasses or a pair of shorts (it was an extra pair, no one had to canoe naked). The rest of the day we paddled furiously in order to stay ahead of the group, fearing revenge.

A couple of days later, I sent this note to them...


This comic sums up nearly perfectly the amount of faith I have in doctors now. In fact, I'd say I have more faith in god, and I'm an agnostic (which is why I don't capitalize the word god. As opposed to the church, which capitalizes on the word of god.)

I found this comic here, at the Robot Nine blog. Check it out, it's great!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A first for me: the beach in November

While California is known for having wonderful weather, it's been an unusual November, at least in my neck of the woods. Last weekend was so nice, Tiff and I went with some friends to the beach. In November! And not all bundled up. And while not quite as warm, it's another nice sunny weekend again so far. I for one am quite pleased about this.

I don't enjoy rain or cold, and wish it would leave almost as soon as it appears. I long for the summer before it's even winter yet. My mood is very visibly affected by seasons, generally being much lower energy in the winter months. That's probably completely normal, I don't know. Or at least, quite common.

So right now, in this unusually warm November, I'm a happy, happy guy.

Vegetarian Shoes

I'm really liking these boots I recently got. I needed to replace my Doc Marten's, but I was also hoping to do so without using leather. Fortunately, as more and more people start to consider how they might lessen their impact on the animal world, more and more companies are starting to offer alternative products that really are cool and not just your stereo-typical tree-hugger birkenstocks and hemp clothing.

The company that makes these is called Vegetarian Shoes, and they're based in the U.K. I got my pair from a shop here in California that carries the Veg Shoes line.

Vegetarian Shoes makes a line that for all intents and purposes are the perfect Doc Marten replacements, even offering the various colors like blue, green or red. But, they also have many other styles and products - not just shoes and boots.

If you need to get a new pair of shoes or boots, I recommend that you give this company a look. If you find something you like, you're not only getting yourself something cool, but you're doing just one more thing to help out the animals, and wouldn't that make you feel just a little bit better?


Dusty was a feral cat that Tiff and I trapped when she was 9 months old. Now she catches toy mice, and couldn't be any happier.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Popular Discrimination

The other day, Tiff and I were running errands. We spotted a place to park when Tiff said "Oh, wait, that's a handicapped spot".

What? Did she really just say that? My girlfriend?

That's when I realized, almost all of us are guilty of a widespread and continuing act of discrimination: against parking spaces that we've deemed "handicapped".

I asked Tiff why she would say such a thing. "What right do we have to claim superiority over these perfectly good parking places?"

I've been thinking about this for a while now. Whenever I go into parking lots, I now look for the handicapped spots. It's a sad sight. There they are, usually sticking close to each other, probably as a method of comforting each other. They even tend to congregate as close as they can to the entrance of whatever building they happen to be near, as if to say "Hey, look at us, we're so close to where you want to go, you can totally park here!". And yet, I watch car after car ignore these misunderstood spots.

For as long as I can remember, it's only been handicapped people that have dared to park in these spots that society has said they should park in. Because they're different than us. But you know what? Handicapped people are just people. And handicapped parking places are just parking places. I don't see disabilities any more than Stephen Colbert sees color. I've decided that I will lead by example, parking in these perfectly functional parking places. I for one will not be perpetutaing the myth that these spaces are somehow less able to accommodate my needs than any of the other spaces which we've deemed fit for the masses. And in so doing, I'm also saying to handicapped people "Hey, I'm just like you. Why don't you go on ahead and park in another spot, because today, I'm handicapped too. We all are."

I think one day I will be seen as a hero to the handicapped for my brave actions. We could all be heroes though. We just have to treat handicapped parking spots the same as we would any other parking spot. Together, we can eliminate this overlooked act of discrimination.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


When Tiffany and I were looking for a second cat a couple of years ago, we ended up at the Humane Society. There were a bunch of kittens there, so many that they had overflowed from the regular "housing" beyond the swinging doors out into the front room, where they sat in wire cages. We were looking at these front room kittens, and we each kept being drawn towards this one grey kitten who was clearly older and bigger than the others. Just barely kitten-size still, really. We finally asked to hold her in a small room where we could play with her. She was super active, wanting to explore everything in the room, but she also gave us a little time to pet her.

After a short while, we were ready to put her back so we could talk about it. We opened the cage door, and Tiff set her back inside. Before we could close the door, the cat spun around and jumped from the cage onto Tiff, scurrying up to her neck where she proceeded to bury her little furry head, all full of purrs. Tiff looked at me with big watery doe-eyes. "I think she loves me", she said.

And that's how Trixie chose us.

(Trixie's first day at home with us)

Current Obsession

I want one of these new challengers in the worst way. It's the first time a new car has come out that I liked better than the car I drive now. I think they actually made it look better than the original 1970 version. I'm hoping that Chrysler doesn't discontinue them, what with all of their money problems and all. But even if they do, I will get one someday. My goal is sometime in 2011. We'll see.

(Photo found on Flickr)

days with my father

Occasionally, I'll point out someone else's blog or website which i feel is worthy of a look. This would be one of those times.

'days with my father' is a really well done, bitter-sweet photo journal of artist Phillip Toledano's 98 year old F
ather in his final years. The photography is really beautiful and unique, and the story is one that has you alternating between laughter and tears.

The elder Toledano has a
condition that has left him with no short-term memory, and so he does not recall that his wife died in 2006, though his son has told him this time after time.

Each page is one large photo, many of them with accompanying text. The copy gives us glimpses into the father's life, as well as the efforts that Phillip has to make as a result of his Father's condition.

It doesn't take long to get through, as it's only about 38 pages, but I found myself taking my time be
cause it just seemed like there was so much to take in with each page, even if what I was taking in was not actually visible, but rather, a mood. Here's the link to view it (and some sample pictures from it):


This was a photo of Tiff and I that I re-worked in Illustrator.

(Note: all photos and art posted to this blog have been created by me, unless otherwise noted)

The Intro

Hello People! (which is a funny way to start this, since there are no people who are currently aware of this blog. But I'm going to assume that at some point, there will be people who read this. Even if it's just my Mom and my girlfriend.)

Since this is a blog about me and my views of the world, I'll start by giving you a little background on me.

  • I was born and raised in the Bay Area, and couldn't be happier about that.
  • Currently, I'm a graphic designer for a major health care company, and while I find the company itself to be just a part of the evil empire, I love my boss, my team, and the work that I get to do (sometimes).
  • My girlfriend Tiffany and I have been together for over three years now. When we met, we were both committed to being single. After our first date, we were committed to each other, and we soon became best friends and I can't imagine not having her with me. We balance each other out in all of the right ways.
  • We have three cats - Kinser, Trixie, and Dusty. Kinser and Trixie both came from the Humane Society, and Dusty was a feral kitten who lived at my last office building. When she was 9 months old, Tiffany and I trapped her and brought her home. Now she's the snuggliest little cat ever, and constantly shows her appreciation for her new life. It's a much longer story than that, and I'll get into that in a later post.
  • My Mom lives about 30 minutes away. My Dad was a musician who died when he was 38 (a year younger than I am now), and through him I have two half-Sisters and an extended family that I love very much. There's a really long story there, too, which I'll also get into later on.
  • Long an animal advocate, in the last couple of years I've become what most people would call an animal rights activist. I've also become a vegetarian. I think everyone should be vegetarian (or even better, vegan), but I choose not to push it on people, and instead try to lead by example, making myself available to anyone who might have questions or comments about animal rights and/or eating veggies.
  • I drive an 85 Monte Carlo SS named Growly that looks beat to hell, but I love it more now than the day I bought it over 18 years ago.

Other than those specific points, I'm just your average guy, going through life trying to do the right thing. And not because I'm afraid of going to hell. I love to laugh, and if I can make you laugh, even better. I'm an intelligent person who probably still to this day fails to live up to his potential, but that's okay, because at least I know I have more in me should I need it.

I'm not sure exactly how this blog will take shape. It will most likely end up being a mix of my reactions to current events, my rants against organized religion, information/ideas on animal rights, and pictures I've taken or art I've created (so, you know, more or less just like every other blog out there without a specific theme). But, we'll see. For now, this is what I have.

I hope you enjoy this, but if you're not completely satisfied, return the unread portion to me for a full refund. Happy reading!